Whoopi Goldberg Says This Celebrity Ex Is the Only One She's Not Friends With
Her relationship with this one-time co-star went up in flames after a controversial incident.
After three marriages—and three subsequent divorces—Whoopi Goldberg decided to stop trying to be something she wasn't. "One day … I thought, 'I don't have to do this. I don't have to conform,'" she told The New York Times in 2019. "I tried marriage, and it wasn't for me." While not the marrying type, the 67-year-old comedian, actor, and television host has said she has stayed in touch with most of the men she has been linked to, a list that include Frank Langella and a Bond-era Timothy Dalton in addition to her three ex-husbands. The one exception is the romance that would also prove be her most high-profile. "I'm friends with almost every man I've gone out with, except this man," Goldberg told Closer Weekly in 2018. Read on to find out which ex she doesn't speak to and to learn more about their brief but much-discussed relationship.
They fell in love at the peaks of their respective careers.
Goldberg and Ted Danson first met when they both appeared on an episode of The Arsenio Hall Show in 1989. When the late night show's host made a comment about "how male comedians can be good-looking and funny but how women can't be good-looking and funny," Danson was put off, according to a May 1993 interview with the couple in The Chicago Tribune. "I decided to nail this guy…I said, 'You're wrong; here comes a very sexy and very funny lady,'" the Cheers star recalled.
While Goldberg said she "floated out" after hearing that and wondered if "there was a little something to be investigated" with Danson, it wasn't until they were cast opposite each other in the 1992 comedy Made in America that sparks would fly. There were soon rumors of a romance between the two actors, then both at the top of their respective games. Fresh off the wildly successful Sister Act and a 1990 Oscar win for her supporting role in Ghost, Goldberg became the highest-paid female actor at the time for her role in 1993's Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit. For his part, Danson was coming off an 11-year run as television's then-highest-paid actor for the role of womanizing bartender Sam Malone.
Danson was married when their paths crossed again.
While Goldberg was single when she met up again with Danson on the set of Made in America, he was married with two young daughters. As the press caught wind of the relationship, so did his wife, environmental designer Cassandra "Casey" Coates. Coates, who had suffered a massive stroke during the birth of their first child that left her partially paralyzed, subsequently filed for divorce after more than 15 years of marriage. With no prenuptial agreement in place, the settlement reportedly cost the actor $30 million, according to The Telegraph, as well as primary custody of the couple's children.
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A public appearance led to serious backlash.
Although Goldberg and Danson declined to discuss their relationship publicly in the months after news of their affair broke, the relationship would be back in the headlines again in October 1993. That was the month Goldberg was roasted by the iconic New York Friars Club with a special—and soon-to-be infamous—appearance by Danson. Appearing in blackface makeup, the actor shocked much of the audience when he reportedly used a racial slur multiple times, made crude jokes about Goldberg's anatomy and their sex life, and concluded the performance by digging into a plate of watermelon.
While the club's roasts were known for being raunchy and distasteful, the bit did not go over well. Talk show host Montel Williams quit the club in protest, critic Roger Ebert wrote that the "event demonstrated that the painful history of black-white relations in America is still too sensitive to be joked about crudely," and filmmaker Spike Lee commented, "There's just no way [Goldberg] can defend this thing." Even then-mayor of New York City David Dinkins, who had presented the roast, offered his take, calling it "way, way over the line."
In an interview after the performance, Danson said that "it seemed like a good idea at the time," adding that he did it "because she asked me to." Meanwhile, Goldberg stood by him in the uproar that followed, saying in a press conference the next day that she had helped develop the material and found the artist who applied the makeup. She further defended the performance, as reported by People, as lampooning the very racism they had faced as a high-profile interracial couple, saying, "We get mail every day from people calling Ted a [slur] lover. That's what we live with, and it's the context for the jokes and blackface."
Their relationship came to public, painful, and very final end.
Despite supporting each other through the debacle, Goldberg and Danson called it quits weeks later, releasing a statement confirming their breakup that November after just 18 months together. Danson would later say that they had already broken up at the time of the roast, describing the incident and a subsequent car accident as a wake-up moment that prepared him to begin a relationship with Mary Steenburgen, whom he met months later and married in 1995. Goldberg likewise rebounded fast, marrying her third husband, actor Lyle Trachtenberg, in 1994. Danson and Steenburgen are still together, while Goldberg and Trachtenberg divorced just a year later.
Perhaps due to the painful circumstances surrounding the end of the relationship, the former couple would never be seen together again, having lost not just their romantic relationship but also their friendship.
"[The breakup] was really painful, and it was very public," Goldberg said, per Closer Weekly. "And the loss of his friendship hurts a great deal. We can never go and have a soda, anywhere…I'm friends with almost every man I've gone out with, except this man."
But The View host isn't exactly mourning the state of things these days. When asked on Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen if she still talks with Danson, she offered an adamant, "Uh, no!", adding, "That was like 20 years ago…I've boned so many people since then."